Florida Health Officials, along with the State Emergency Response Team, remind Floridians to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to take basic precautions to limit exposure when performing home cleanup following the recent flooding in the Florida Panhandle.
“Residents are urged to take precautions against mosquito-borne illnesses,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “Take simple steps to protect yourself and your family, like wearing protective clothing and using repellent when outside,” he said. Draining and dumping water, said Armstrong, is also important to prevent mosquitoes from emerging in large numbers over the coming weeks.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes, always remember to “Drain and Cover”:
DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
• Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
• Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
• Empty and clean birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week.
• Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
• Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
COVER skin with clothing or repellent.
• Clothing - Wear shoes, socks and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
• Repellent - Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
• Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET(N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide), picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective.
• Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
Tips on Repellent Use
• Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
• Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended. Other US Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
• Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
• In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old.
• Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
• If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
• Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.
For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products:
For more prevention tips and information on mosquito-borne illnesses, contact your county health department or visit the Florida Department of Health website. Follow the Florida Department of Health on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook.